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01-19-2005, 08:29 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Vantaa
Country: Finland
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Time for a Finnish Veikkausliiga update. There haven't been any new prospects suddenly emerging, but some players are doing better than others. Or vice versa.

1. (1) Alexei Eremenko Jr
Born: 24.3.1983 -- Position: AM L/C -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 183 cm -- Team: Lecce

Right on schedule. The tempo in Serie A did not prove to be a problem, but getting a starting spot in Lecce has been somewhat more difficult: he has started only two games on the pitch as opposed to the subs bench. In that sense Alexei Jr is perhaps a victim of circumstances as he's competing for a spot with players that provide more defensive coverage in an already too attacking minded team.

He is, however, Lecce's most used sub and has only failed to play in two games this season. What's even more pleasing is the fact that he's easily adjusted to the left wing and can now play two positions equally well. Eremenko Jr is mainly right footed which allows him to cut inside with the ball and cause havoc with his dribbling and passing or win freekicks from his favorite angle, while his left foot is still capable of delivering half decent crosses. But placing him on the left side will not keep him from the right as he is one of those players who tend to wander around the attacking zone.

So far Alexei has yet to score for Lecce and has only assisted 2-3 goals, but for Finland's hopes regarding the 2006 World Cup he's been worth his weight in gold. He's the 2nd leading goalscorer of the UEFA qualifying zone with 5 goals - 3 of them freekicks, one of them a penalty shot and the fifth one coming from a breakaway. With Mikael Forssell still out due to an injury, Alexei can count on getting much needed playing time.

2. (2) Niklas Moisander
Born: 29.9.1985 -- Position: D L -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 181 cm -- Team: Ajax reserves

Moisander is finally back after the injury that kept him sidelined for a full year. Here's hoping the elegant full back can stay injury free from now on (*knock!*) and replace Janne Saarinen in the national team as soon as possible. We're getting quite desperate!

3. (3) Kasper Hämäläinen
Born: 8.8.1986 -- Position: M R/L/C -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 184 cm -- Team: TPS

Talented youngsters recovering from major injuries, part II. Ended up missing the rest of the last season after all, but should be fine now. According to himself, will remain in Veikkausliiga this year and look for a transfer after that. Udinese have been rumored to be interested.

4. (5) Roman Eremenko
Born: 19.3.1987 -- Position: AM C -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 180 cm -- Team: FF Jaro

Made his Veikkausliiga debut soon after my initial list, totalling four games and one goal for the senior team by the end of the season. Did not disappoint and therefore is now ranked one spot higher. Is in a rather interesting situation right now as he's competing for the playmaker's position with his own dad. Far from his older brother's physical strength, but should make up for that with his supposedly superior creativity (supposedly as in I still haven't seen him). Playmakers take long to mature so there's no need to expect great things just yet. Alexei Jr keeps hyping Roman, saying he's the biggest talent in the family, but that's what big brothers are for, right?

5. (4) Tim Sparv
Born: 20.2.1987 -- Position: M L/C -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: ??? cm -- Team: Southampton U18 or whatever it is

Nothing new here. Still an important player for the Saints' junior team, but will be overaged next season. We'll see what the future will hold for Sparv.

6. (6) Joona Toivio
Born: 10.3.1988 -- Position: DC/DMC -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: ??? cm -- Team: HJK reserves aka Klubi-04 (Finnish 3rd tier men's league)

The captain of Finland's U17 national team is still looking for his Veikkausliiga debut. Nothing new to report here, either, but keep an eye on this kid.

7. (10) Eero Korte
Born: 20.9.1987 -- Position: D/M -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 178 cm -- Team: FC Lahti

Korte played in 3 Veikkausliiga games in 2004 and is looking for a breakthrough this year. Chelsea seems to be interested in him, but not just yet.

8. (7) Pekka Lagerblom
Born: 19.10.1982 -- Position: DMC -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 180 cm -- Team: Nürnberg (on loan from Werder Bremen)

2004/05 has been a disappointing season for Lagerblom who has struggled to make the first team due to his bad play and several minor injuries, of which one he picked up after taking the ball from Vincent Kompany and then receiving Kompany's belated tackle to his ankle. Lagerblom was finally loaned to Nürnberg to get more minutes on the field, but was injured in practice right before his first game.

Lagerblom is nowadays a more or less regular visitor on the national team's subs bench, but obviously needs to play more in order to keep that spot.

9. (9) Aapo Kiljunen
Born: 24.1.1986 -- Position: GK -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 187 cm -- Team: MyPa

No news here. MyPa's backup goalkeeper in the Veikkausliiga as far as I know, but hardly gets any playing time at all for the senior team. Raw, but has plenty of potential.

10. (8) Ville Taulo
Born: 14.8.1985 -- Position: DC/MC -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 184 cm -- Team: FC Lahti

Taulo had a sophomore slump last year after the impressive 2003 season, but is far from a lost case. He still played in 17 out of 26 Veikkausliiga games in 2004 and is looking to re-establish himself this year.

Wild card:

Ümit Menekse
Born: 13.2.1986 -- Position: AMC -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: ??? cm -- Team: HJK reserves aka Klubi-04

No news here, either. A boom or bust type of playmaker.

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